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Marine Aquarium Assembly Guide 
Learn how to build a marine aquarium with everything you need to get it right!

This guide is intended to guide people who do not know how to set up a marine aquarium and want to get informed before starting to set up an aquarium in just two steps. Due to the length of the subject, this text is just a small map that will give the direction of where the person should go to get the information they need to set up an aquarium that will work.


Step One: Aquarium Planning

The point that will define the main needs of the aquarium are the animals that will inhabit it. All planning must start from there and will define almost everything the aquarium will need. If you want to have a marine aquarium with Finding Nemo protagonists (Dory and Nemo) you will need an aquarium with at least 500 liters because Dory, paracanthurus hepatus, is a big fish.

It is necessary to define a compatible fauna considering the size of the aquarium and the habits of the animals. There are animals that are incompatible with each other and with other animals. Tangs are aggressive with other tangs. Clowns are also aggressive towards other clowns as adults.

There are fish that feed on corals, so they are incompatible with them. Angel fish like the centropyges mostly eat corals.

Due to the great diversity of fish and corals that exist, this text would be a huge book if we talked about each one of them, even if only a little. So it is up to each aquarist to seek information about the habits of each animal. Look with experienced aquarists and trusted shopkeepers, they can give you the main information about the animals that matter most. We recommend that, in addition to what I like, the aquarist chooses fish that have beneficial habits for the aquarium, such as tangs (eat some types of algae), six line (eat some worms) and dancer shrimp (eat aiptasias).

In marine aquarism there are three main types of aquariums:

Fish Only Aquarium: This type of aquarium, as the name implies, has fish as its main fauna. There are several types of very beautiful fish that feed on corals, anemones, hermit crabs, shrimp and other invertebrates and that's why the aquarium ends up having only fish.

Coral Aquarium : In the coral aquarium, the focus is on these animals that have a multitude of fantastic shapes and colors. Many coral aquariums do not have fish or have only one or two pest controllers such as a wrasse or tang.

Reef Aquarium (Reef) : It is the type of aquarium that keeps fish and corals in harmony. It is the most common type of marine aquarium in existence. In this type of aquarium, no fish that eat coral can enter.

It is very important to define how the aquarium will be in its final stage with all the fish and other animals. This is essential so that there are no future problems with excess contaminants in the water

At the end of this text we will give some examples of aquariums for people to have a starting point.

Click here and see our text on the 4 essentials of fishkeeping!


Step Two: Do Only What Your Money Can Pay

There is no half-talk, do what your financial condition allows you to assemble and maintain with quality.

Many people make the aquarium and forget that marine aquarium has a high maintenance cost. Palliatives are not always effective and not everything that is cheap works. It's better for a project to go wrong than a set up tank.

Before buying anything, use the cost and expense spreadsheet at the end of this text to estimate the main assembly costs and monthly expenses. This spreadsheet is just an average estimate to get a sense of how much will be spent, the actual spending will almost certainly be higher.

Estimating the main costs to set up and maintain the aquarium and if it fit the budget with some slack, just move on with the project. If the budget doesn't fit your current financial situation, it's better to rethink the project and make a tank that fits in your pocket, or postpone setting up the tank until your financial situation is better.

After a lot of research and you've already decided which aquarium you're going to set up, which animals you want to place (and you've already figured out if they're all compatible with each other and which aquarium and what the minimum size is) just go ahead with the project.

These are the two steps you need to follow to successfully set up a marine aquarium. The great master Yoda already said: do it or don't do it, there is no attempt. Speaking of tentative, read our text on tried and accomplished aquarium here to get an idea of what we're talking about.

Filter the sources of information well - Try to identify good stores that are old in the business and that have a good reputation in the evaluation mechanisms (ReclameAqui, PROCON) and that don't play pushing games. Be wary if the retailer criticizes brands and products he doesn't have and exalts the ones he sells. Check if the store has good fish and coral batteries, with healthy fish, perfect water and well equipped. A shopkeeper who can't even keep his own batteries and aquariums in excellent condition has no merit in guiding beginners.  

The same goes for sites and groups: Try to hear the opinion of those who (currently) own and maintain large and successful aquariums, with many years of stability. Avoid following fads and tips from those who have recently set up aquariums (less than two years old) and/or haven't had a successful and stabilized aquarium for longer than that. 

Try to investigate the tips and opinions in scientific sources that are not directed to the Aquarism trade, such as Universities (Masters and Doctoral theses) and Technology/Engineering Companies, because there is a lot of information circulating on the net that does not have any technical/scientific basis.


Now we follow with some information that will be useful to help plan the aquarium.

the aquarium

In all these years of setting up and maintaining marine aquariums we have seen that aquariums with at least 200 liters tend to do better over the years than smaller aquariums. This is mainly due to nutrient dissolution capacity and thermal stability.

Nutrient dissolution is the ability to dilute contaminants to non-toxic concentrations. If an aquarium with 50 liters of water has 4 ppm of ammonia (a high value for marine aquariums), in a marine aquarium with 500 liters of water the same amount of ammonia represents a concentration of 0.4ppm, which is not harmful to animals.

Thermal stability is the ability to maintain the current temperature and not heat up or cool down quickly according to the ambient temperature. The greater the volume of water in the aquarium, the more difficult it is to heat or cool it.

We recommend that the aquarium has a maximum height of 60cm. This is so that you can pick up anything that falls into the aquarium by hand and the lower the height, the better the penetration of light into the water. It's really bad to move aquariums that are too tall, uncomfortable and sometimes cause problems.

For a beginner we recommend an aquarium 100cm x 40cm x 50cm high. This aquarium has 200 gross liters and a very nice format. With this size it is possible to have any type of coral and it is comfortable for fish up to 15cm.


For a 200 liter aquarium we recommend a beginner's fauna of up to 4 fish only. A reduced fauna helps to keep the levels of contaminants (ammonia, phosphate, etc.) low. Over time and with gaining experience, the aquarist can add a few more fish compatible with the size of the aquarium and type of aquarium.


Unlike how it is used in freshwater aquariums, the sump is not suitable for placing biological media (we'll talk about this in the topic of filtration), but rather for placing equipment.

A secondary function of the sump is to increase the volume of water in the aquarium, thus increasing nutrient dissolution and thermal stability.

We recommend making the sump of your aquarium as large as possible. It is not necessary to make dividers, just a bubble-breaker just before the repression. The more space available, the easier it is to accommodate the equipment and move it when necessary.

Some people like to make refuges in the sump to raise micro-organisms and other animals and even to put some fish in if necessary. A simple refuge to make is only with live rocks and puddle shrimp. The larvae of these shrimp will be carried by the current and will feed fish, corals and other animals in the aquarium.

Click here and see our text talking exclusively about sump!


Aquarium Mobile

The furniture must be made of marine plywood, stainless steel, aluminum or stone. Ordinary wood spoils very quickly. Stainless steel, aluminum or stone furniture can have a simple and resistant structure and be covered in the way the hobbyist prefers.

The furniture must meet two main specifications: it must be resistant to the weight of the aquarium and it must provide space for the aquarist to have the freedom to move the sump. We see a lot of furniture made by inexperienced people who end up leaving the sump space too short and/or low. You can be sure that a well-planned and properly assembled piece of furniture will avoid a lot of back pain.


The skimmer is by far the main filtration equipment in the marine aquarium. The skimmer is only not used in freshwater aquariums because it doesn't work in freshwater, if it worked everyone used it because it's cheaper and simpler than filters with biological media.

The skimmer is more efficient than biological media simply because it removes organic matter more easily than biological media. While biological media gradually transform organic matter into less harmful substances, sump removes them from the system at once and before all that. Biological media ends up in the accumulation of excessive nitrate and phosphate in the aquarium, which is not good.

We do not recommend the use of biological media with the skimmer, it is not necessary in most aquariums. If you use the skimmer and biological media together, the biological media gets in the way of the skimmer somewhat. The skimmer is very easy to remove proteins, bacteria and organic carbon, but has a low affinity for ammonia and even less for nitrite, nitrate and phosphate. From this point of view, it is better to prevent the proteins from being broken down into ammonia and let the skimmer remove it more easily.

As the skimmer has low affinity for nitrite, nitrate and phosphate, additional filtration becomes necessary over time. For this we recommend the use of a sulfur reactor or a biopellet reactor. There are people who like to use the algae filter, but we do not recommend it, it is a type of filter that can go very wrong.

We see no fundamental need for chemical filtration with activated carbon or purigen. We do not use any type of chemical filtration in our marine aquarium. Activated charcoal has a good affinity for iodine, so it stops  our aquarium that focuses on corals is not advantageous. There are really nice aquariums out there using charcoal and/or purigen, but it's not absolutely necessary. These materials can be used very successfully in peak ammonia or water contamination by some toxin.

See below our texts with a little more about these types of filtering equipment:


sulfur reactor


algae filter


Click here and discover the skimmers we manufacture! They are robust, large and efficient skimmers for marine aquariums


This part is extremely important for coral aquariums and less important in aquariums with fish only. Coral aquariums need better light than fish-only aquariums.

The main types of lamps used in aquariums are: HQIs, LEDs, and Tubulars (T5 or T8). There are several brands with different color temperatures, effects and facilities.

It is the lighting that will add color to the aquarium. With adequate and quality lighting, animals are prettier and healthier.

To choose any lamp we recommend a color temperature of at least 10000K. This color temperature reduces the incidence of algae in the aquarium. Lamps with a color temperature of less than 10000K are yellowish and do not look very nice and slightly increase the incidence of algae.

More detailed information about lighting will come in the text we are preparing on this point alone.

The quality of lighting will define the photosynthesis capacity of animals such as corals and anemones and hence their health.

We prefer the use of HQI over any other type of lamp due to its lower price and the quality of its light. Even national HQIs have excellent results. The only disadvantage of HQI is that it heats water more than other types of lamps. After the HQIs, we prefer the tubular ones (T5 or T8), they are lamps with excellent spectrum and low heating. We still don't think the high cost of LEDs outweighs the energy savings.

In terms of growth results and color quality of the animals, the HQI has been better than the T5 and T8, and these better than the LEDs. We have several friends with the best lighting fixtures on the market and even so the same corals (seedlings from the same matrix) have shown better growth and better colors in HQIs and T5 or T8.

We don't recommend Chinese LEDs, these are really bad.

Calculating the amount of lighting used depends on the shape of the aquarium, the animals you want to keep and personal taste. For aquariums of fish only 0.5w per liter of aquarium using  HQIs or T5 is enough  and 0.3w per liter of aquarium using good LEDs is enough.

Aquariums with soft corals and LPS recommend using at least 0.6w per liter of aquarium if using HQI or T5 and at least 0.4w per liter if using LEDs.

SPS Aquarium we recommend at least 0.75w per liter of aquarium if using HQIs or T5 and at least 0.5w per liter if using LEDs.

These values indicated are for aquariums with a height of 50cm, larger aquariums need a greater amount of lighting.

Note: All HQI lamps are in 220v, so you may need a transformer.

See the website below for a real comparison between T5 and LED. It shows how the loss of light in an LED is much greater than that of a T5.

T5xLED Comparative Link


The future is not for LED lamps but for sulfur plasma lamps.

Water Circulation

A very simple and important point of the aquarium. The greater the circulation in the aquarium, the better. It is the circulation of water that will help with oxygenation, in not gathering organic matter in the rocks and substrate, in preventing the appearance of cyanobacteria and in bringing nutrients to the corals.

We recommend at least 20 times the volume of the aquarium in circulation. That's counting the repression.

There are circulation pumps on the market with digital speed control and different effects, but the results are similar to common circulation pumps.


One of the main factors to consider in an aquarium. If you notice that the water quality is bad just by looking at it, it is very, very bad. The only way to monitor the main compounds in the aquarium is through testing.

The main tests of the marine aquarium are: calcium, magnesium and alkaline reserve. Everything else in the marine aquarium depends on these 3 parameters being adequate to work correctly. The pH, ammonia, nitrite, nitrate, phosphate and silicate tests are important but secondary tests.

It is also necessary to carry out regular water salinity tests. This test can be done using a hydrometer or a TDS meter. There are very accurate and inexpensive glass hydrometers.

We recommend testing at least once a week in new tanks and at least twice a month in mature tanks. With the balance of the aquarium it is possible to do monthly tests.

We made a series of texts on each of the main tests. See the links below for each of these tests to find out the importance of each:

calcium test

magnesium test

Alkaline reserve test

pH test

ammonia test

nitrite test

Nitrate test

Phosphate Test

Salinity Test

IMPORTANT NOTICE: Use the best quality tests because their accuracy is much better and can help you predict a problem. It's a big investment, but it's worth it. If you test every 15 days, you'll spend about 35 tests a year counting the tests you're going to retake. The tests have about 75 doses, so a test lasts at least a year and a half and for this fact it is necessary to pay attention to the expiration date of the tests.

Deionized water

Even if the water is exchanged with sea water, it is necessary to use deionized water to replace the water that evaporates. If supplemented with salt water, the salinity will increase a lot and may harm some animals.

To prepare deionized water you will need a deionizer or a reverse osmosis (RO) filter. The two devices work similarly with the same result. Due to their practicality, we prefer the use of deionizers to the use of reverse osmosis filter.

Whenever using deionized water, it is necessary to certify its quality with the TDS. Ideally, it is always set to zero.

Click here and see the deionizers we manufacture for marine aquariums!


Temperature is a major influencing factor in the marine environment. The less the temperature in the aquarium varies, the healthier it will be.  To heat you can use the traditional thermostats, but to cool things down it is a little financially complicated.

To cool marine aquariums, two equipments are used: chiller or cooler.

The chiller is a cooler that works on the same principle as the refrigerator. They are highly efficient and expensive because they are made with a titanium coil. Any other alloy you use will corrode in a short period of time causing serious problems.

Coolers can be used with great caution. Regardless of the cooler model, and according to its working principle, it will keep the aquarium up to, under very specific conditions, 5ºC below room temperature. The average is to keep the aquarium up to 3ºC below room temperature. Coolers rely heavily on the relative humidity to cool, the higher the relative humidity, the lower the efficiency of the cooler.

Due to the thermal instability of the Brazilian climate, we recommend using the chiller to cool the aquarium. I've seen some people keep an aquarium for up to 3 years without a chiller and with a cooler, but when it came to the hot front, the aquarium couldn't stand it.

See why it's important to keep the temperature in aquariums in our two texts about it:

The importance of temperature control and the effect on bacteria

The effect of cold on fish

living rocks

Live rocks are more than just decoration in the marine aquarium, they are a fundamental part of the balance of the ecosystem.

In the sea there are many, many more fish in rocky regions than in the open sea, and even more in coral reef regions than anywhere else. The rocks provide a safe environment for microorganisms, plankton, crustaceans, fish and other animals to thrive. These living beings help in unimaginable ways in the aquarium, whether in the conversion of organic matter and feeding corals and fish.

We recommend using at least 1kg of rock for every 8 liters of aquarium. The more rock, the better for creating life in the aquarium.

Rocks also work as a form of filtration due to their colonization of bacteria and help in the thermal and chemical stability of the water.

Living rocks are not all the same. According to the place of origin they have different characteristics. We believe that the best rock in the world is found here in Espírito Santo. It is much more porous than rocks elsewhere in the world due to geographic conditions. When we worked with the export of these rocks, Guarapari rock as it is known abroad, reached a price up to ten times higher than sansibar rocks.

Click here and see our text on marine aquarium rocks!



The Substrate was once a fundamental part of the aquarium as it was essential in the removal of nitrate and phosphate. Nowadays, there are several equipments that make the removal of nitrate and phosphate damage to the substrate more aesthetic than functional. There are aquariums without substrate, but the functions responsible for this are performed by other equipment or systems (such as the refuge).

Using the appropriate substrate it is possible to achieve an environment for the development of animals that help in the aquarium such as small crustaceans and a small chemical support for the water.

We recommend using aragonite, halimeda or ground shell as a substrate. Sand is an inert and compact substrate that will bring no benefit. Dolomite must not be used as a substrate.

One tip is to use the most uniformly sized substrate possible, whatever it may be. Using a thinner or thicker substrate does not make any difference in the result, it only has an aesthetic difference, but mixing thin substrate with thick substrate can cause problems. When there are grains of the same size, there is always a vacant space between them where water can pass with relative ease. When there are grains of different size, the smaller grain enters the larger grains, blocking the passage of water, thus creating an oxygen-free zone where harmful bacteria develop.

We recommend that the aquarium has between 1 and 5  inches of aquarium aragonite. To calculate the amount of aragonite that will be used in the aquarium, simply multiply the base x the width x the height of the aragonite (measured in meters) and multiply by 1.5 kg, which will give the amount in kg. Example: an aquarium 40cm wide, 50cm high and 1 meter long and will have 5cm of aragonite the calculation is 0.4x1x0.05x1000x1.5 = 30kg.

Click here and see our text talking about aragonite!

bomba de circulação aquário marinho
synthetic salt

For those who live far from the sea or the sea water near their house is of poor quality, the assembly and partial changes must be made with synthetic salt.

I use synthetic salts from renowned brands because the quality of the water is responsible for everything going well in the aquarium.  Each salt has its instructions for use and must be followed.

mineral supplements

The main aquarium parameters (calcium, magnesium and alkaline reserve) are naturally reduced or consumed within the aquarium. Alkaline reserve is the parameter that drops faster due to its high reactive power.

It will be necessary to replace these components in some way, either by dosing specific products or making partial exchanges. Even with the use of natural water, due to the time and amount spent, it ends up being necessary to use some type of supplementation.

There are two types of replacement: calcium reactor or Balling method.

The calcium reactor is a device that uses carbon dioxide to dissolve calcium media and release this and other nutrients such as magnesium, carbonates and trace elements. Due to its working principle, the calcium reactor usually needs constant adjustments and the CO2 system is expensive. If you use homemade CO2 it will be a problem.

The Balling method consists of dosing chemical supplements that dissolve in water to maintain stable levels at all times. It is a simple method that can be done manually. Balling dispensers are a facility for this process. By dosing the supplements separately you can only dose the necessary amount of each according to each system.

We incomparably prefer the Balling method to the use of a calcium reactor. We've seen more problems with a calcium reactor, either in regulation or in acidifying water, than with a metering one.

Click here and see  very versatile balling dispenser that we manufacture!

Click here and see our complete line of aquarium supplements!


Partial Water Changes

Making water changes is the main way to maintain a marine aquarium. It is with it that you remove some of the contaminants and add mineral nutrients to the water.

There is no exact formula for what amount of water to change, it is up to the aquarist over time to see which amount has the best results in your aquarium. Exchanges of quantities above 40% must be done with great care and only in emergency cases. The greater the amount of water exchanged, the greater the risk of an osmotic shock to the aquarium.

We recommend weekly partial changes of 20% of the aquarium water volume. If you do two 10% partial changes a week it is better than one 20%, it reduces the variation of salts in the water. If you want to exchange 30%, even better, but here comes the question of costs.

Over time, the aquarist begins to “feel” when his tank needs a partial replacement due to its appearance.

In situations of treatment of problems such as algae or cyanobacteria, making partial exchanges helps in removing nutrients and excess algae or cyanos. It is very important not to forget to siphon off the focus of algae or bacteria so that they are removed from the aquarium.

Click here and see our text on partial water changes!


Electrical Installation

We are talking about different filtration, circulation and lighting equipment and each of these equipment almost always needs to be plugged into an outlet.

Properly plan the electrical installation of your aquarium to avoid problems and even the beginning of fire. Leave at least 8 outlets available for your aquarium, because even if it is left over, it serves as a backup if any other outlets are a problem. Pay attention to the maximum power allowed for the extensions and outlets you use.


The cycling process is the process by which the system begins to seek its chemical, physical and biological stability. It's also time to see and adjust some equipment.

Cycling in a marine aquarium has the main function of stabilizing the variations of the main parameters: calcium, magnesium and alkaline reserve. These parameters in the first days of assembly can undergo large sudden variations due to the myriad of reactions taking place between water, substrate, rocks and equipment.

The colonization of microbiology is fundamental for the proper functioning of the aquarium and they will appear naturally. As the marine aquarium depends much less on biological filtration than freshwater aquariums because of the skimmer, cycling does not have as its main function the colonization of nitrifying bacteria.

The marine aquarium must work during the cycling period in the same way that it will work afterwards, that is, the skimmer must be working, lighting, circulation, temperature control, etc. If the aquarium cycles in a different state than the normal aquarium, it will develop a different balance which can cause serious problems.

We recommend that the marine aquarium go through the cycling process with a photoperiod identical to the one that will remain, be it 8 or 10 hours for example, and at the time that it will be turning on and off. Any later change in photoperiod or on and off times can cause changes in the ecosystem.

Sérgio Gomes recommends that the aquarium lighting be increased gradually. Half an hour in the first week, an hour in the second week, two hours in the third week and so on until you complete the desired photoperiod.

We do not recommend cycling in the dark at all. When you turn on the lights after cycling, this sudden variation can create a strong chain reaction that can cause problems.

It is almost certain that the aquarium will give you algae in the beginning. More than 90% of newly set up marine aquariums have an algae infestation. The biggest advantage of this process is that there is little supply of nutrients and it doesn't last long.  WHEN the algae appear, it's time to put the cleaning team to do their job and in a few days everything will be clean.

The question everyone asks is: How long does it take for the aquarium to cycle?

The answer is not what everyone likes to hear: it depends.

What will define whether an aquarium has cycled, that is, it has stabilized the parameters, is the variation of the tests. If the variations are more or less regular, it's because the aquarium is balancing.  Each aquarium has a series of factors that change the cycling period.

The cycling process ends when the physical and chemical parameters of the water come into relative equilibrium and no longer undergo sudden changes.

An important tip to help in the cycling process is the use of rock and aquarium water with plenty of life to bring colonies of bacteria, micro crustaceans and even other organisms to the aquarium, such as the gamarids.

Support Equipment

There are a number of support equipment that help in the aquarium such as magnetic cleaner, floor cloths (you will use a lot of lol), electrical panel, temperature controller, balling meter, water replenisher, oxygen generator, ozonizer, UV reactor, elements traces, etc.

From our point of view, UV filter is completely unnecessary in marine aquariums.

That's the basics you need to set up a marine aquarium and get it right. You are already aware of the dimensions and the necessary equipment and materials. Below is a summary of what will be needed and an Excel table to estimate the costs and expenses of assembly and maintenance.

Ideal parameters

The ideal parameters is the margin where the water is at its best parameters for the aquarium ecosystem. It is possible that the parameters change a little (a maximum of 5%) and still maintain good water quality, but the aquarist must be very attentive to this because the risk of getting worse is much higher.

The ideal parameters for marine aquariums are:

Density: 1023 and 1026 kg/m³

Salinity: 33 to 37 grams per liter

Temperature: from 24°C to 26°C

Calcium: 420 and 500ppm

Magnesium: between 1300 and 1500ppm

Alkaline reserve: between 7 and 11dKH

pH between 8 and 8.3

Ammonia: maximum 0.1ppm

Nitrite: Maximum 0.1ppm

Nitrate: maximum 0.2ppm

Phosphate: maximum 0.03ppm

There is a myth that in fish-only aquariums you don't need to do a calcium test and that in soft coral aquariums you don't have to worry about calcium and alkaline reserve. This is a scam spread by people who want to harm fishkeeping. All parameters are of vital importance for all organisms in the aquarium and therefore all must be in balance.

putting animals

Marine animals are very susceptible to physical and chemical variations in the water, so they should be added to the aquarium when it has relatively stabilized. Any sudden variation can cause the death of one or more animals overnight.

The first inhabitants to enter the aquariums should be the cleaning team to fight the algae that emerged during cycling. We recommend placing the cleaning crew about 15 days after assembly if sudden parameter variations have ceased.

Fish, corals and other invertebrates should be placed after parameter variations have maintained some regularity and when the parameters have been properly corrected.

We recommend placing a maximum of 4 animals at a time, in order to avoid a gross change in the ecosystem.

Animal Tips for Beginners

What delights aquarists are the fish, corals and invertebrates in the aquariums. Each animal requires some specific care. Some are less demanding and some are very demanding. Regardless of the aquarium, some animals will never adapt to it as the aquarium represents only a small part of the entire marine ecosystem. Most filter-feeding organisms never survive long in aquariums because of their organic needs.

It is very important to show that even if the animal is alive does not mean that it is well. Several people survived months in the Nazi concentration camps being tortured, with little food and in precarious conditions. If you don't create a suitable environment, the aquarium is nothing more than a concentration camp where animals suffer and waste away silently and slowly for months and even years. Just because the living thing is surviving in the aquarium doesn't mean it's okay. Just because coral survives in low light doesn't mean it isn't doing harm to your metabolism. Just because fish survive on high doses of nitrate doesn't mean it isn't harming their health.

Here are some fish, corals, and invertebrates that are easy to keep, inexpensive, yet beautiful.


Yellow Tang: A classic of aquariums, eats some types of algae. It's aggressive with other tangs. We recommend a tang for every 300 liters of aquarium.

Clown fish: Another classic with dozens of species and variations. It is aggressive with other clowns and some species such as tomatoes are aggressive with all fish.

Wrasses: fish with many colors, easy to keep and helps control invertebrates such as planarians and fireworms. As an example we have the six line, cyanocephalus and melanurus.

Coeruleus: National Tang beautiful, cheap and easy to maintain. Aggressive with other tangs and grows more than yellow tang. I recommend one for every 300 liters of aquarium.

Centropyge: Another national classic for its striking colors. It is not aggressive and when underfed or stressed can eat corals

Pseudochromis: A genus of fish with very colorful, peaceful, and easy-to-maintain species.

Green chromis: One of the few peaceful maidens and can live in large schools.

Blenios: These are fish that inhabit the substrate and rocks of the aquarium. Colorful, peaceful and they eat some pests.

Pomacanthus Arcuatus: Also known as false paru, this is an excellent fish for a fish-only aquarium. Very cute as a puppy, but it loses its beauty when it becomes an adult. Eat corals.


Mushrooms: Soft coral that likes a slow to moderate flow and moderate light. It looks great on the substrate. There are several varieties with different colors.

Devil hand: Hard coral that grows fast. It is a coral that burns other corals and spreads very easily. Try to isolate it on some rock, because even if you scrape the rock it will grow back if a small piece is left.

Umbrella Leather: Soft coral that enjoys little circulation and moderate light intensity.

Finger Leather: Soft coral that enjoys little circulation and moderate light intensity.

Seriatopora Caliendrum: Colored and fast growing hard coral. It likes a lot of light and a lot of circulation. Leave it on top of the aquarium.

Pavona cactus: Hard coral that grows fast. It is a coral that burns other corals and spreads very easily. Try to isolate it on some rock, because even if you scrape the rock it will grow back if a small piece is left.

Galaxea: Hard coral that grows fast. It is a coral that burns other corals and spreads very easily. Try to isolate it on some rock and be aware of its tentacles that exceed 5cm. Its tentacles don't reach points below the colony, so it's an excellent coral to put up in the top and corner of the aquarium.

Zoanthus: These are corals that enjoy a lot of light and moderate to high circulation. They need iodine supplementation to do well.

Yellow Polips: One of the few yellow corals that exist.

Kenia Tree: Hard coral that grows fast. It is a coral that burns other corals and spreads very easily. Try to isolate it on some rock, because even if you scrape the rock it will grow back if a small piece is left.

Trumpets: LPS Coral with 4  pink, green and bicolor varieties. It is one of the most common corals.

Montiporas: Hard corals that grow in the shape of saucers. They like moderate to high circulation and, as they are deep water corals, they do well in places with low light intensity.

Ricordeas: Soft corals similar to mushrooms, like moderate light and low water circulation.

Other Invertebrates

Clown shrimp: Shrimp that eats worms and parasites. It is a predator that eats what it can catch, including small, almost dead fish. Eat other shrimp if you can catch it.

Ballerina shrimp: Shrimp famous for eating the aiptasias from the aquarium. It is easily eaten by large fish such as thalassoma. If your food is deficient you can eat some corals.

Ophiuroids: Starfish-like animals. Only detritivorous species are indicated in aquarism. They feed on food scraps, faeces and dead animals.

Note on crustaceans : All crustaceans change their shell regularly and in the process they are defenseless against the fish. To keep any crustaceans in the aquarium, there must be several places where they can hide and the fish will not reach. Depending on the organization of the rocks there is no space for the crustaceans to hide.

Line 1: Devil Hand, Pavona cactus, Mushroom, Kenia Tree. Line 2: Leather umbrella, zoanthus, galaxea, montipora. Line 2: Seriatopora caliendrum, trumper, finger leahter, Ricordea. Line 4: Clown shrimp, yellow polips, ophiroid, dancer shrimp.

Animals that should not be placed in the aquarium

Some animals, no matter how beautiful they are, do not adapt to the aquarium environment either because of their complex feeding, their morphological characteristics or because of predation.

Some of these animals are not suitable for all types of aquariums and we will explain the exceptions

Here is the list of some animals and the reason for not putting them in aquariums:

Stars and Hedgehogs: Should not be placed in aquariums with corals because these animals can expel their gastric juices out of the stomach and directly or indirectly burn some coral.

Sea lilies: These are curious and beautiful animals, but they depend on a large amount of organic matter in the water to survive.

Striatus butterfly: Does not survive on feed or frozen food. It will invariably die in the aquarium in a few months. When they become malnourished, they get sick and can transmit diseases to other fish.

Centropyge bicolor: Does not survive on feed or frozen food. It will invariably die in the aquarium in a few months. When they become malnourished, they get sick and can transmit diseases to other fish.

Pomacanthus tricolor: Does not survive on feed or frozen food. It will invariably die in the aquarium in a few months. When they become malnourished, they get sick and can transmit diseases to other fish.

Pomacanthus Paru: Animal practically identical to the arquatus, distinguished only by a detail on the tail. You need a very varied diet to survive.

Seahorse: perhaps the animal that most arouses desire in the aquarium. It doesn't survive on feed, so it's very difficult to maintain. Seahorses survive at least 6 years in an aquarium when well cared for with live and varied feed. In most aquariums they survive painfully for up to 2 years.


To learn more about seahorses see our text about them: Seahorse Maintenance


Line 1: Sea horse and Sea lily. Row 2: Pomacanthus Tricolor, Butterfly striatus, centropyge bicolor. Line 3: Hedgehog, Star and Paru

Some things we consider useless for marine aquariums

Biology Accelerators

One of the most recommended commercial items by shopkeepers, but not that efficient. To be efficient, the accelerator must have been stored in ideal conditions (refrigerated at 4ºC and protected from light) from the moment it leaves the factory until the moment of use. There are several scientific papers that question the sale of this type of product and many do not show any results.

See here in our text on biology accelerators some of these works

UV reactor

The UV filter is used very successfully in freshwater lakes to control algae suspended in water. In a marine aquarium an efficient skimmer removes suspended algae from the water with ease.

When it comes to controlling microorganisms, the skimmer also does a little of this work, but neither the skimmer nor the UV reactor has any efficiency against microorganisms in the rocks, substrate and glass of the aquarium. So it doesn't have any real results in preventing disease or controlling microorganisms that aren't floating in the water.

See here our text on how the reactor works  UV


hospital aquariums


The hospital aquarium is an aquarium independent of the main aquarium used to isolate a sick fish and prevent contagion from others and quarantine newly purchased fish.

In marine aquariums it is very difficult to catch a sick fish. At the first sign of threat he enters the gaps in the rocks and becomes almost impossible to catch. If the aquarist manages to catch it, it is easier to control the spread of the disease.

In stabilized aquariums and under suitable conditions, it is rare, very rare indeed, for the fish to get sick. But newly acquired fish suffer a lot of stress with transport and are more susceptible to disease, in addition to the fact that they may be bringing parasites with them.

Quarantine fish greatly reduces the risk of spreading disease to the main aquarium.

To make a quarantine aquarium you don't need rocks or substrates, although you need a filtration system and temperature control and parameters.

A 50 liter aquarium is sufficient for a marine hospital aquarium. There should be no water exchange mechanism between the hospital aquarium and the marine aquarium, but you can (and should) use the water from the main aquarium in the hospital aquarium.

The filtration system can be a canister, a large hang on or even a skimmer. The hang on and canister need to stay on even if there are no fish, but the skimmer does not.

Hospital aquarium equipment should never be used in the main aquarium to prevent disease transmission. After using the hospital aquarium, discard all the water in it and fill it with fresh water if necessary.

Regularly change the hospital aquarium water in the proper proportions.  Always use water from the main aquarium.

If after 20 days of quarantine there is no sign of disease or parasite, the risk of the animal contracting or spreading any disease is very low. Partial daily change of the hospital aquarium from 20% to 30% to adapt the fish to the conditions of the aquarium and transfer it in 3 days to the new aquarium.


Silicate, pH, Iron, Copper, Iodine and some more tests

These tests are not the main aquarium tests, it is clearly possible to maintain an aquarium without them.

A lot of people think the pH test is important, but if the alkaline reserve is in the ideal parameter, the pH is automatically in the ideal average.

Silicate testing is important for diatom algae control. If you use good quality deionizer resin (purolite mb400 resin removes silicate from water) there will not be a high concentration of dissolved silicate. The only way to get silicate into the system is with poor quality water. No bad water, no silicate.



Frequently Asked Questions

I set up my aquarium a few months ago, but there is no sign of pink algae. Why?

The water may be in an unsuitable condition for it. Too much organic matter prevents them from appearing, as the surfaces of glass and rocks are covered by bacteria that compete with them for nutrients.

It takes a water with trace elements in adequate quantity for them to grow.

You also need to remember that the pink alga has to have a “seedling” from somewhere. It will never arise naturally in aquariums where the live rock and substrate is dry and the water is synthetic. Seawater has pink algae seedlings.


Click here and see our text about pink algae or calcareous algae!

I put a coral in my aquarium and it doesn't want to open it. He is dying?

Corals can take several days to adapt to a new aquarium. Make sure the coral is in an environment suitable for its species. Inadequate light or current harms the coral.


My tank has an outbreak of cyanobacteria, I'm going to siphon it all off and do a partial exchange of more than 50%. That's right?

It's not right. Every corrective measure in an aquarium must be slow and gradual, especially when it is cyanobacteria we are talking about.

Partial exchanges in large amounts tend to be detrimental.

Click here and see our text on cyanobacteria!


It's taking a while to solve my problem with cyanobacteria, I'm going to put some medicine. Will it harm something?

It depends. Any medicine is not selective, so it will affect everything you get and the results are not always good. Anyway, cyanobacteria have toxins that can affect animals. If you have a lot of cyanobacteria in the aquarium, they will release a lot of toxins into the water.


I was told that an aquarium does not need a skimmer and chiller because in nature there is no skimmer and chiller. Will it work if I do it like this?

Categorically not. There is a big difference between the nature and environment of the aquarium. I don't know of any aquarium that has worked this way.


The price of the chiller is very high and that's why I want to make one at home. Can I make stainless steel?

Not for marine aquarium. The chiller is expensive because its coil is titanium. Any other metal alloy will dissolve in the salt water and contaminate the aquarium. Never use anything from a snake in an aquarium.


Click here and see our text on the use of stainless steel in the chiller!

My aquarium has rocks and dirty glass, can I take it out to wash?

No. No aquarium wash. To clean glass, the best and most convenient are magnetic cleaners. If the rocks are dirty it is because filtration is inefficient and/or circulation is inefficient. Improve circulation and filtration so the rocks will stay clean and free of silt.


Can I assemble my aquarium in parts? First skimmer, lighting and substrate, then the rocks, then I improve circulation and so on?

No. That doesn't work. It's better to buy things and keep them until you have everything. Most aquarium stuff isn't perishable, so it's easy to store. Buy aquariums, sump, furniture, pumps, equipment, substrate and lastly the tests (because of expiration date) and salt. Once you have everything you need at your disposal, set up the aquarium.


floor cloths

The only certainty of moving in a marine aquarium is the certainty of getting wet and wetting the surrounding environment.

Always have clean cloths available to dry water from furniture and the floor. This prevents accidents and dirt.



Keep an aquarium diary with the parameter values on the dates that were measured and the brand of tests used. Over time you will see the consumption profile of your aquarium and will more easily notice when something is wrong.

Sample Aquariums and Necessary Things
Below is the table for estimating  costs  assembly and monthly electrical consumption in excel
Download this guide in .PDF by clicking on the picture below  to read on your computer 
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